New Delhi, April 20: Amid the water crisis that states are facing and two year of consecutive low rainfall season, centre addressed Supreme Court that 256 districts with a population of about 33 crore spread over 12 states are affected by the drought. Water level in Marathwada dams at historic low of 3%, says water expert Pradeep Purandare.
Additional Solicitor General P.A. Narasimha said the total population in such areas may be 33 crore but the actual number of people affected by the drought is likely to be less than what is reflected in the gross population figures of affected districts.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice N.V. Ramana said that about 25 per cent of the country's total population is affected by the drought. The court asked the Centre to appraise it that how many households in the drought-hit areas got 150 days employment under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).
"Marathwada is heading towards desertification. In fact, there are possibilities of desertification if present situation continues. Situation is serious in Osmanabad, Beed and Latur. Six projects have completely dried up," Purandare told ANI.
The Apex Court also said that the Centre should adopt modern technology to assess drought situation in the States instead of following eye estimation method which is not even mentioned in the manual for drought management.
Government also informed the court that it has released Rs 19,000 crore under the MGNREGA as a relief measure. The government said, farmers in drought-hit areas are entitled to restructuring or rescheduling of their loans from the bank.